If there is one word that continues to haunt me these days.. it is hope. I think for the first time that I can remember as a Believer.. I am struggling to have hope. The world seems like such a mess.. as I write this, fires are still burning in Northern California.. and that is our home. We smelled the smoke and looked at the pictures of homes burning, people dying and there was nothing we could do to stop it. It is heart breaking to see the suffering that is all around us.. the mass slaughter in Las Vegas.. just a week earlier. What is happening Lord? Everything seems to be out of control and there is so much suffering.. In my personal life there have been challenges on a level I have never encountered.. emotional and physical trials..
So as I process all of this.. the word HOPE emerges. We cannot live without it, but it does not come from our circumstances or our surroundings. Our hope .. my hope.. can only be found in the Lord. He is with us and He is unchanging and we are living in a fallen world.. a dark world. All of these tragedies teach us that this world is not going to provide us with security or be our refuge .. it is an unstable place and we are not safe here. I believe that God is taking us deeper.. to a place where our faith truly rests on His goodness. Often that happens when everything else fails.. when all our dreams are broken..when we no longer believe that anything here can save or protect us. The world gets excited when people come together and accomplish good things.. and of course that is encouraging.. but not enough to sustain us through the long years of recovery.. through the grieving process. Once the headlines are gone.. and we go back to our “normal” lives.. there are people who cannot do that and we may forget about them because their pain is not public.. time to pray for them.. to remember them.. because it could have been us.
I am grateful for my life.. grateful that so far we have a roof over our heads .. grateful for the way I see people reaching out to help others.. but what I am the most grateful for is my relationship with the Lord.. for the knowledge that He loves me and is with me no matter what happens next.. He is my safe place and my refuge in the storm.. He is good and we can trust Him when nothing makes sense and when our next trial starts.. Our faithful loving God.. we are blessed.
Hebrews 6:18 in the Message says:
We who have run for our very lives to God have every reason to grab the promised hope with both hands and never let go. It’s an unbreakable spiritual lifeline, reaching past all appearances right to the very presence of God where Jesus, running on ahead of us, has taken up his permanent post as high priest for us..
The last few weeks have been a great reminder of the way God works in our lives. We often wait for things hoping that what we long for will happen. I am a great believer in “longing’. After all it is our longing that draws us near to the Lord and it was His longing for us that led to creation and all that followed. So..as we long for things..we may start to hear things that bring discouragement. We may believe that God has said no.. when in truth He has not. We may find ourselves tested.. when nothing is happening or even worse when things are all happening in the wrong way.. do we trust God? In my life I have seen this testing happen over and over again.. as though the enemy works overtime to bring discouragement while the Lord is working behind the scenes on our behalf. We have to make some pretty important choices.
Will we trust in the goodness of God when everything around us says that is not true? Will we believe that He knows the desire of our hearts when everything is taking way too long? Can we walk in faith when we have no sight? I believe the answer to all of these questions needs to be yes. If we are followers then we follow in His steps no matter what our circumstances and we trust that Romans 8:28 is true every single day of our lives. The older I get the more I have the more memories I have of God’s sovereignty over every difficult circumstance and the easier it is to believe that He will continue to provide and deliver as I wait on Him and do not give up.. That in itself is a huge!
I am thinking of you as I write this.. wondering if you are struggling the same way I do when I cannot see ahead… the uncertainty causes anxiety and worry. I doubt if I will ever totally overcome in this area, but I have memories and that is helping. I remember learning how people often give up right before the blessing.. so I won’t give up. I remember how the Bible talks about perseverance and how there are so many examples of God coming through at the last minute and rescuing His people. I have many memories of that in my own life..He has been there for me over and over again. So I want this post to bring you hope..we cannot live without hope and we cannot live the abundant life without our God. Trust in Him.. wait on Him..remind yourself of every single time He has come for you and know that He will do that again and again.
Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think. (Ephesians 3:20)
Today was a day when I heard God whispering… at least that is as close as I can come to describing what happened. It is as though God spoke clearly using only a few words and not really making any sound.. not even a whisper. This has happened to me in the past, but not frequently. I was just getting up and opening the curtains to let the sun shine in. My mornings are somewhat of a battle ground these days.. I can feel worries that were there when I fell asleep creeping back in.. today was different because I heard God say ” enjoy your day.. I am taking care of you” It was as clear as a bell!
I felt a warmth and a sweet presence right there near the window and I knew.. it was the Lord. How I had been longing for a word of comfort from Him.. this has been a very hard season and in truth the last 10 years were incredibly challenging. I have questioned my decisions over and over and wondered if I took a wrong turn or something. I prayed and cried out and it seemed as though God was pretty quiet.. He brought encouragement through the Bible and sermons and other people.. but I needed to know that He was close by.. His words are staying with me and I am clinging to them as I type this.. I knew it was the Spirit of God speaking.. the comforter.. the one who knows exactly what we need.. at the perfect moment He makes sure we know that we are not alone and that He is with us in the trial..we are not forgotten.
I am sharing this with you because I want you to have hope today.. don’t give up even if you have been waiting a very long time. God has heard the cry of your heart and He is taking care of you even if you don’t feel like that is true. Those words He spoke are not only for me.. maybe you need to hear them.. ” enjoy your day, I am taking care of you.” Such simple words but so filled with hope. He wants us to enjoy this life.. in the middle of the storm.. in the midst of uncertainty..when we don’t know what will happen tomorrow, next week, next month, or next year. He is at work in the silence.. in the doubts..in the fear..in the unbelief..these things do not change Him. When it is time.. the season will be over and something new will happen.. He will come for us.. to rescue us and restore us and renew us.
Thank you Lord for speaking to me and my prayer is that you will speak words of comfort and hope to each person who is reading this post. Lift them up on wings of eagles.. carry their burdens.. renew their strength and remind them of your presence..
Here we are again.. can you believe it? Just two more days before 2015 is over. This is a time for looking back and for looking ahead. God gives us this window of time to reflect after the busyness of Christmas and before the beginning of 2016.. For me it is a little more intense than I would like since my birthday is New Years Eve. I literally start a new year of my life when January 1st rolls around. I am reminded of how fast time passes and how long I have lived. When you are young it is easy to look ahead with some excitement.. as you age it is a little scary. My body is wearing out and I am fighting to stay healthy and strong. My grandchildren are growing up and I want to be here as long as I can to see them as adults and hopefully to see their children.
As I look back on 2015 I see moments of great faith and moments of failure. I remember the days when I felt like He was so close I could touch him and I remember the days when I wondered if He even knew I existed. Yet I know that God made me the way I am.. He knows my pain and He appears in the middle of my brokenness to remind me of His sovereignty over my life. I imagine that you can relate to my struggles and I want to encourage you..to remind you that God knows our hearts.. He knows what makes us dance for joy and what breaks our hearts into a million pieces.
Looking back I see things that I am grateful for.. ways that God has moved to change me and to guide me into a deeper place with Him. I see healing in my life and in the lives of those around me. Some of us received gifts that we were waiting for and some of us are still waiting. This morning as I visited with a friend and saw how God was giving her a wonderful blessing that she had been longing for I was struck with a thought that I knew was from Him. He said ” I am in the delays”.. when we wait and pray and hope.. He is in that season with us. We are not forgotten or set aside. He keeps our desires close to His heart and at the right time He delights in surprising us with the very thing we hoped for.
So.. let us enter this new year with confidence in the Living God…our Creator and our Provider. Our hearts can rest in His presence trusting that He will come for us.. He will rescue us.. He will heal us and He will shower us with blessings in 2016.
These two words are themes that I revisit again and again on my blog. Do you know why? Because we can never get too much of either..in fact most of us seem to be starving for more of both. There is so information out there and so many stories making the rounds.. on social media, in the news, etc. How much of it is truly encouraging? Even when I watch videos that are supposed to be faith building, I often feel like these are exceptional stories.. not everyday stories..like the ones we live in.
I realize that God does miraculous things and He can turn things around at any moment..there is no way I am minimizing His work in this world. Yet I can’t help but reflect on the way He calls us to live fully in the times when nothing amazing or astounding seems to be happening..at least not those big things that are in testimonies and faith filled stories. He is with us in the struggle, in the sorrow, in the depression, and anxiety. He holds us up as we walk along..weary and worn out.
We continue to trust Him and to ask Him for the miracle and the turn around..we wait on Him and live fully each day.. not comparing our lives to others. We look around and see Him at work in the little things..we call out for strength and He gives it..we ask for encouragement and He brings it..we fall on Him and He catches us and breathes new life into our empty places.. These are the true miracles.. the evidence of His presence and His great love for us.. We are blessed!
“No one will be able to stand against you all the days of your life. As I was with Moses, so I will be with you; I will never leave you nor forsake you.”( Joshua 1:5)
We had a church retreat this weekend and if I could give it a name.. it would be the title of this post..”Remembering His Goodness.” That is the theme that I kept hearing in the stories the speakers shared with us. They were actually speaking on the hard times in life and how we need to learn to accept them as normal and be able to reach out to those around us when they reveal their struggles to us. A great topic in these times where there is so much fear and anxiety in everyday life.
The key for me was hearing this theme as we read through the psalms and discussed the issues they presented. Our Creator God is good, He is faithful and available in all circumstances. He is larger than our circumstances.. bigger than our fears..sovereign over everything that happens to us in this life. He is our refuge and our rock.. We are always able to cry out to Him… to rely on Him and lean into Him. Although His ways are not our ways.. we can trust Him to bring deliverance when we need it and to rescue us before it is too late!
Our part is to remember this and to act on it.. to nurture the relationship.. to remember Him and His promises… to dwell on His faithfulness and to count on Him when the darkness comes. We are in a battle and our faith is constantly being challenged by the trials and tests that we face..but He is there with us.. We are not alone. This is our road.. we signed up for it when we committed to follow Him and He will carry us when we cannot walk another step.
“I remain confident of this: I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord.” (psalm 27:13-14)
Waiting is a central theme of my writing… the emphasis on this topic is tied to the long periods of waiting in my own life. I also feel strongly that waiting is a lost art..especially among believers. We live in a culture, both outside and inside the church, that does not value or understand waiting, yet it is a key to experiencing the abundant life.
We read in scripture that “God’s ways are not ours”..but do we truly embrace that knowledge? When too much time passes, we feel forgotten and wonder if we are going to be waiting forever.. in truth, we want instant answers and we look at time from our earthly perspective. God does not.. He is doing things in us as we wait and we are learning to trust Him when that is probably the last thing we “feel” like doing. He takes us past our feelings into a deeper level of faith.. one in which we know who God is and we trust Him to provide for us and come for us when we need to be rescued.
As believers we have our history to show us how God has always taken care of us.. we can look back and realize that every single time things seemed to be dark and we felt lost.. He was there. He came through when we wondered how we could take another step. His hand reached for us when we were sure we would fall. Our Father in heaven held us as we fainted from fright or felt so depleted we wanted to give up.
Who can doubt His faithfulness? Why risk taking things in your own hands when you can “wait upon the Lord”.. knowing you are safe and that everything He does is because of His great love for you!!
“But those who trust in the Lord will find new strength. They will soar high on wings like eagles. They will run and not grow weary. They will walk and not faint.” Isaiah 40:31